Investing in a Coffee Service Part 2: Brewing Equipment

Now that we know the different kinds of coffee we can provide, how do you brew that coffee and what machines do we need?

First, lets talk about the most important piece of equipment in any coffee brewing. The Grinder. The way in which your coffee is ground is the single most important variable that influences your coffee’s final flavor. As a general rule the larger the cutting blades are and the slower they spin, the fuller and more rounded your coffee will taste. Couple this with very sharp cutting blades and you will find that a high quality grinder will make coffee taste noticeably special compared to a lesser quality grinder. This is an easy way to set yourself apart from other coffee programs in your area. The grinder is easily the most over looked piece of equipment. Take a good look at its importance when building your budget. Expect to spend $1,000 + on a grinder that will stand the test of time while making great tasting coffee.

Now that our coffee is ground, how do we brew it best for our business?

Batch Brewing is what we see in the majority of coffee retailers. This is generally a machine that is capable of brewing gallons of coffee at a time into a specific vessel that will keep that coffee hot for hours. There are positives and negatives to this type of brewing. Let’s talk about the positives first.

Batch Brewing coffee is very simple for your staff. After grinding the coffee, all your staff has to do is put it into a specialized brewing basket and push a button to run the brewing cycle. The machine will be programed by a Safehouse Representative trained to use your machine. The resulting coffee will taste great with very little work on your part. So what are the negatives?

The main negative is waste. The coffee holding vessel is designed to keep coffee hot for hours but how long does it taste good? In our experience, the coffee in these containers continue to get stronger and stronger as it sits. We recommend coffee be re-made every 35 – 40 minutes. This is no big deal during a busy morning when you can have enough orders to empty the vessel within the allotted time but throwing away a gallon of coffee every 35 minutes from 11am until closing will negate all of the profit you were able to make in the morning. A good batch brewer with serving containers will cost around $2500. That isn’t a huge investment for the potential return but be aware of the potential cost of waste if you choose to solely use batch brewing for your business.

So what is the solution for a coffee program that may not maintain a steady customer flow for all hours of the day? Our favorite solution is called Pour Over Coffee. This is coffee that is brewed one cup at a time right when the customer orders it. This may sound daunting but with proper training and relatively little equipment investment this could easily become the aspect of your business that your competitors do not even know they need. Couple this with a small selection of our Black Label single origin coffees and you have a very unique and affordable solution to afternoon and evening coffee. How much does this cost? Most likely you will have already invested in a brewed coffee grinder for your batch brew program. That grinder can double-task for this program as well! The other purchases are 2-4 kitchen scales, pouring kettles, pour over brewing devices and a hot water boiler. All of these components together barely break $1,500.

Taking a thorough look at all that is needed, the total equipment investment for a Batch Brewer and a Pour Over Program together is approximately $6,000. That is less than an espresso machine and may account for upwards of 45% of your total coffee business.